Pinehurst Woman Competes in Ms. N.C. Senior America
All the excitement of crowning a statewide Queen will be centered at the Moore County Senior Enrichment Center Friday, May 2, when the Ms. North Carolina Senior America Pageant takes place.
Among the women competing for the title is Pinehurst resident, Carole Wunderlin. A genuine Tar Heel, she was born in Charlotte, and brought up in Southern Pines.
While still in school, Carole Wunderlin moved to Virginia with her family, and later attended Radford College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in education. She taught school in Virginia and after she was married, her husband was transferred to St. Louis, where she raised her three children, and lived until being widowed in 2001.
"It was time to come home," she says, "and be with my brothers and cousins."
Married for the second time a few years ago to "a wonderful man, who is a great companion and my best supporter," Carole says that her husband urged her to compete in the pageant, reminding her of the smiles that she would be giving to others. She has worked as an activities director at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage, and also at an assisted living facility in St. Louis, and she says her day is more complete when she can make someone smile.
The purpose of the Ms. Senior American Pageant is to emphasize and honor women who have reached the "age of elegance" (60 years of age and older) and is based on the belief that seniors are a valuable treasure. It is upon their knowledge, experience and resources that the younger generations have the opportunity to build a better society.
The first pageant was held in 1972 in New Jersey, and became a regional, and then a national event. This fall the winners of the state competitions will meet in Atlantic City for the national pageant and the crowning of the Ms. Senior America.
Beverly Wetherbie, a co-director of the North Carolina pageant, who lives in Aberdeen, explains that the statewide competitions include four categories -- a five minute interview with the judges, a 30-second philosophy of life presentation, evening gown modeling, and a talent competition.
"I have often heard from potential competitors that they don't have any talent," she says. "But somewhere every person has a hidden talent. We've had contestants do lots of different things besides singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument. Among the more unusual were those who demonstrated stretch aerobics, or did a roller skating routine, even one woman who had won prizes for her pickles at the state fair, and gave a presentation on exactly the steps she took to prepare them."
Carole Wunderlin has put together a number called "Sweet Violet," based on a Dinah Shore favorite and the little ditties from the '40s and '50s that her mother used to sing to her. Dressed in an outfit of cutoff overalls decorated with violets, she wears her hair with scrunched-up pigtails Hannah Montana-style.
"We have only 2 minutes and 45 seconds on stage, and you don't have to be perfect, but you do have to be precise," Wunderlin says.
Beverly Wetherbie has been involved with the Senior pageant for seven years, winning the crown of Ms. Virginia Senior America in 2005 while she and her husband lived in that neighboring state before retiring to the Sandhills. She has found that the camaraderie among the contestants is very special.
"They have a lot of laughs, have a sharing spirit, and consequently become good friends," she says. "When I was participating in the national pageant in Las Vegas, all of us marveled at what we had been able to accomplish. A bond of friendship ties us all together and we are an inspiration to each other.
"This isn't an aggressive competition. Of course, there are disappointments, but that's life and that is what we can pass on to the younger generation. We are all winners, just by trying."
To cheer on Carole Wunderlin, the sole local competitor in this year's state pageant, contact Beverly Wetherbie at 944-8171 to arrange for a $10 ticket donation. The pageant will be held Friday, May 2, at 1:30 p.m. at the Senior Enrichment Center, on U.S. 15-501 just 2 miles north of the Pinehurst Traffic Circle. Seating is limited at the Center, however, so advance planning is necessary.
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